Friday, 1 September 2017

Colin Tizzard: Hitting the Big Time


Colin Tizzard
Colin Tizzard started training at Venn Farm in Milborne Port, near Sherborne, Dorset in 1995. Initially, he bought two horses for his 16-year-old son, Joe, to ride in point-to-point races. Both won four races apiece in that first season and so began a training career that would, eventually, take Colin right to the top of the tree in National Hunt racing.

After three years in the point-to-point field, Joe Tizzard turned professional and, with 10 horses in his yard, Colin took out a full training licence in 1998, essentially to provide his son with a few more rides. Indeed, Joe was aboard Cue Card when, despite starting at odds of 40/1, he romped home by 8 lengths in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2010 to give the yard its first Cheltenham Festival winner. Joe was aboard again when Cue Card won the Ryanair Chase in 2014 but, ironically, it wasn’t until his surprise retirement shortly afterwards that the yard really started to take off.

In the summer of 2015, Colin Tizzard made the fateful decision to move his horses to a new purpose built yard on the top of a hill on the Tizzard farmland. Colin had previously remarked, “If this hill hadn’t been on the farm, I would never have trained. It wouldn’t have worked without this.” Inexplicably, the move had a profound effect on the fortunes of the stable.

In the 2015/16 season, Colin, with son Joe now working as his assistant trainer, saddled Cue Card to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree, Thistlecrack to win the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree and Native River to win the Betfred Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree. Those successes, plus others, allowed him to break through the £1 million barrier for the first time.

Astonishingly, the 2016/17 proved even better, with 57 winners, nine of which were at the highest level and a total of just over £2 million prize money. Highlights included victories for Thistlecrack in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and for Native River in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

Colin Tizzard is at a loss to explain his recent success, saying simply, “It’s the same food, same water, same gallops; it’s just a beautiful environment.” Whatever the reason, he’s certainly set himself an admirable target to aim for in this and coming seasons.

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